Report: North Korean hacking groups on U.S. sanctions list

North Korean hacking groups placed on U.S. sanctions list
The U.S. Treasury Department is sanctioning three North Korean groups suspected of launching cyberattacks against financial and other institutions in the U.S., to raise money for weapons programs. (Pixabay)

The on and off tensions between the U.S. and North Korea surfaced again late last week, when three North Korean groups suspected of launching global cyberattacks were placed on a U.S. sanctions list, according to an Associated Press report.

The article reported the U.S. Treasury Department stating the three groups, the Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff, and Andariel, were all controlled by the North Korean government and launched the cyberattacks as part of their efforts to raise money for the nation’s weapons of mass destructions programs. The government’s actions facilitate the ability of the U.S. government to seize any assets these groups may have within the jurisdiction of U.S. financial institutions.

According to the article, United Nations experts have investigated at least 35 instances of North Korean-initiated cyberattacks in 17 countries. They have called for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.

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A summary of a U.N. experts report found that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges, AP reported.

One of the North Korean groups cited, the Lazarus Group, has reportedly targeted government, military and financial institutions, manufacturing, international shipping, media and entertainment, as well as critical infrastructure, using cyberespionage, data theft, and other methods. Along with Bluenoroff, it stole roughly $80 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh’s New York Federal Reserve account, AP said.

The report estimated that all three groups likely stole around $571 million in cryptocurrency from five exchanges in Asia between January 2017 and September 2018, according to the Treasury Department